WASHINGTON, D.C. – Seventeen term, 89-year-old Congressman Ralph M. Hall (TX-04) became the oldest member in U.S. House of Representatives’ recorded history to speak on the floor and cast a vote Nov. 27th, surpassing the previous record held by Rep. Charles Stedman (D-NC).
Following Hall’s 18,549th vote cast on the House Floor, Rep. Lamar Smith (TX-21) held a special order in his honor. Many colleagues on both sides of the aisle spoke of their years of service with Rep. Hall and the positive impact he has had in Congress.
Another 30 or so family members and friends from the Rockwall area attended, including his older brother, who is 91 years old.
“Throughout his time in Congress, Chairman Hall has served this institution with style and humor,” said Rep. Smith. “It is an honor to work with Ralph as both a colleague and a friend. Ralph has always said, ‘I’d rather be respected at home than liked in Washington.’ Ralph, you actually have achieved that rare combination of both.”
Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, who serves as Ranking Member on the Science, Space, and Technology Committee with Congressman Hall, said “Years in this body bring people together – whether they are Democrats or Republicans – but people from Texas are together when we get here. And so there’s nothing that would keep me from coming to say ‘Congratulations’ to Mr. Hall.”
Other speakers during the special order included Reps. Steven Palazzo (MS), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX), Chuck Fleischmann (TN), Joe Barton (TX), Sam Johnson (TX), Kay Granger (TX), Pete Sessions (TX), John Culberson (TX), Jeb Hensarling (TX), Michael Burgess (TX), John Carter (TX), Randy Neugebauer (TX), Mike Conaway (TX), Ted Poe (TX), Louie Gohmert (TX), Pete Olson (TX), Bill Posey (FL), Francisco Canseco (TX), Bill Flores (TX), Blake Farenthold (TX), Kenny Marchant (TX), and Randy Hultgren (IL).
Prior to Rep. Hall’s historic vote was the unveiling ceremony of the official portrait of Hall, the Chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, which honored Hall’s service as Chairman. It took place by invitation of the U.S. Capitol Historical Society.
Hall has served on the Committee since first elected to office, and he assumed the Chairmanship in January, 2011, at the beginning of the 112th Congress. He is the only Member to serve as Ranking Member both as a Republican (2007-2010) and Democrat (1999-2003).
House Speaker John Boehner, who accepted the portrait, said, “Ralph’s record of service to the Committee, to our country, has been a thing of beauty. And, I think Mr. Martin’s portrait here matches that description. I’m not much of an art expert, but if you look closely at this (portrait) you’ll see a couple things. One, of course, is the portrait within a portrait of Ralph and his beloved Mary Ellen. And so when I accept this portrait I’ll do so in her honor. And the other thing you’ll notice is on Ralph’s lapel. It’s a fitting symbol of his commitment – long commitment – to the space program. And as Chairman, how much time he devoted, and the focus of the Committee was devoted, to all of our frontiers. He’s done a great job, and I know that Ralph is proud of the shuttle, proud of the work he did, and keeps it all in his heart, as well.”
Speakers at the Portrait Ceremony included Rep. Lamar Smith, Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, former Speaker Dennis Hastert, The Honorable Dick Armey, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Lt. General Thomas Stafford, and Speaker Boehner.
“I’m humbled and honored to have served the 4th District these past thirty-two years,” said Hall. “I’m also honored to have served as Chairman of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee the past two years, and to cast my vote tonight as the oldest member of the United States House of Representatives to do so. I’m proud of what this institution is capable of accomplishing when we work together, and that is what we must do for the sake of our children and grandchildren’s future.”
By J.J. Smith